If you’re getting ready to buy a home, you know it will be one of the most significant purchases of your entire life. However, are you fully prepared for all of the expenses that buying a home will bring? You don’t want to buy a house to find out that you can’t afford it after all.
Many expenses go into buying a home that you can plan for ahead of time. Other costs aren’t as exact that you will need to add in your budget. Read on to learn more about many of the expenses that throw first-time home buyers for a loop.
Closing costs encompass a whole bunch of expenses that you’ll incur buying a home. These include:
- Application fees
- Attorney fees
- Title insurance
- Recording fees
No matter what the closing costs include, you should plan for these expenses to be about 2-5 percent of the price of your home. Costs can vary widely, but it’s good to have a bit of extra cash on hand.
Maintaining Your Home
While most homebuyers are prepared for the initial costs of buying a home, they don't know how much it costs to maintain a home. Each year, things will come up on your property that needs to be addressed continually. These tasks include:
These routine tasks are independent of other costs like replacing a stove or fixing a furnace. Homeowners need to be prepared for these expenses as well.
Taxes can increase or decrease for any given year. You can lookup taxes in the area where you’re planning to buy a home in order to prepare yourself. You should make sure that your property taxes are comparable with that of other homes in your area.
Utilities are what your home runs on. Depending on the climate you live in the number of utilities you pay can vary. Take into account these things:
- Air conditioning
Most neighborhoods have one or two choices for services, so you can ask people in the neighborhood what providers they [refer and how much their bills are each month.
You’re required to have homeowner’s insurance when you get a mortgage. Even if you don’t take out a mortgage and pay cash for a home, it’s a wise decision to protect your investment. Estimate how much a yearly policy will cost you ahead of time.
This insurance will protect your property from things like theft and fire. You can shop around for the best rates based on policies that suit your needs. It’s easy to price out policies online. See where you can save including discounts for security systems or multiple policy discounts.
If you live in an area where floods or earthquakes are prevalent, you should be aware. You’ll find you need additional policies to cover damage in the event of these disasters. The most important thing about your homeowner’s insurance policy is that you check the details for all of the fine print.
When it comes to selecting a home, every situation is a little different. Do you purchase a house because of its size or is the location more important? Both factors play a crucial role in determining your choice, but the unique details in your life can help you decide which is more important.
When realtors talk about a home, they often stress the importance of location. However, if you are newlyweds starting a family and you want to buy a home on a tight budget, you might favor the size of the house over the location. On the other hand, if your purchase is to build your portfolio or to be your forever home, location might matter more than size. When considering size versus location, let the steps below guide you.
Sacrificing Location for Size
While location is important, you may need more space for a home office, a workshop, or a large play area. If that is the case, consider size over location. If home size is your focus, the location doesn’t need to be trendy. Choose size over location for these reasons:
You Have Children: If you have children, it’s preferable to search for a bigger home. Looking for a larger house in many cities might mean you move to areas where you can get better value for your money. While these areas might not be your dream neighborhood, or ideal for your work commute, they may be a great place to begin a family.
You Have A Large Household: If you have a large family or have multiple adults in the same household, you may be looking for additional space for everyone. A bigger house means you could add play space for your kids, a lawn for your pet, office space, more bathrooms, and outdoor space.
You Need More Space for Guests: If you often have people coming to stay with you; your in-laws, friends, or family members — then having more space or guest room will improve your quality of life. Finding a larger home that meets your housing needs is important, and if having room for guests fills you with joy, then size is important.
Choosing Location over Size
You Plan to Rent Out Your House: If you are buying your home intending to rent it out either on a long-term lease or as a holiday rental, your choice of location plays a vital role. Proximity to points of interest and public transportation determine your rental’s demand and supply, and it will have a significant effect on your profit.
You Have Kids That Are Still in School: If you have school-age children, you would want to consider the type of schools available in the area. If there is a specific standard of education you want for your children, ensure you inform your realtor about this before the house hunt process begins.
You Plan to Sell Your House in the Near Future: If you intend selling your home sooner rather than later, you need to be strategic when picking your neighborhood. Location is the crucial factor that affects your resale value — if you are buying a house intending to sell in an abbreviated time, it’s essential you pick an area that will increase your home’s value in the short run.
Both the location of your home and its size are vital things to look for when house hunting, but your decision on which is more important should be a factor of what you need now. Talk to your realtor about your motivation for buying a home and get their professional advice on what fits your needs the most.
Common-interest housing includes individually owned spaces and common areas shared by all owners. The common areas can include clubhouses, landscaping, parking lots or pools. Multistory buildings share lobbies, stairwells, and elevators. Any community that shares property including single-family free-standing homes in developments, falls into the common-interest category.
The two most familiar types of common-interest housing terms are condominiums (or condos) and townhomes (or townhouses). Although both belong in the category of common-interest housing, condos and townhouses may mean different things depending on regional or legal definitions.
A condo is a shared building or group of buildings and common spaces in which housing units are owned individually. This could be a single unit within a tower building or a conjoined home having its own ground floor with exterior entry. Other homes in the condominium category include single-family cottages or even modular homes inside planned communities. When you purchase a condo, you own the unit itself while you are a co-owner of the common areas.
A townhome is a style of house that is connected to another structure on at least one side. It may be solely owned by an individual as part of a CID, part of a multi-family apartment dwelling, or individually owned without property in common. A true townhome is built with independent sidewalls that stand alone even if they touch the walls of another townhome. When you purchase a townhouse, you own the unit itself and whatever yard area is affiliated with it as you would with a detached single-family house.
While condominium units might incorporate elements like private outdoor spaces, individual ground-floor entry options or design elements that resemble those of a townhome, it is ownership that truly defines them.
All CID properties have a homeowners’ association (HOA) of some sort. While some are mainly hands-off with regard to individual units, others have specific regulations regarding renting, remodeling, and exterior décor.
If you are trying to decide between purchasing a condominium or a townhouse, have your agent explain the differences in common ownership between them, and make certain to factor in the HOA fees to your monthly budget.
Confidence can play a major role in the homebuying journey. If a homebuyer is confident in his or her ability to evaluate a house, this individual may be better equipped than others to complete a successful home purchase. Conversely, a homebuyer who lacks confidence may struggle to identify his or her ideal residence, resulting in a long, arduous homebuying journey.
Becoming a confident homebuyer may be easier than you think. In fact, there are several key attributes of successful homebuyers, and these traits include:
A confident homebuyer makes the most of the time and resources at his or her disposal. By doing so, this buyer can identify housing market patterns and trends and map out a successful homebuying journey.
Typically, a confident homebuyer performs deep real estate market data analysis. By obtaining comprehensive housing market insights, this buyer can take an informed approach to purchasing a residence.
A confident homebuyer is willing to do what it takes to acquire a home. As such, he or she will take a conscientious approach to the homebuying journey, as well as ensures that both a buyer and seller can achieve the optimal results.
For example, a confident homebuyer may be willing to negotiate with a seller to determine a price that works for both sides. This buyer also may make sacrifices along the way to guarantee a home sale is a seamless transaction for all parties involved.
A confident homebuyer has a no-quit attitude and will go above and beyond the call of duty to purchase a terrific house at a price that fits within his or her budget. Therefore, this buyer displays persistence throughout the homebuying journey.
With a persistent attitude, a homebuyer can boost the likelihood of discovering his or her dream house. This buyer will keep track of new houses in cities and towns where he or she would like to live. And if the right home becomes available, this buyer won't hesitate to submit a competitive offer on it, either.
When it comes to buying a house, it helps to enter the real estate market with plenty of confidence. If you consult with a real estate agent, you can build your homebuying confidence in no time at all.
Oftentimes, a real estate agent will meet with a homebuyer and learn about this individual's goals. A real estate agent then will help a buyer plan for the homebuying cycle, ensuring he or she is fully supported at each stage of this process.
A real estate agent also is an expert resource to a homebuyer. And if a homebuyer has any questions throughout the homebuying journey, a real estate agent is happy to provide responses.
For those who are ready to pursue their dream home, it helps to become a confident homebuyer. If you collaborate with a real estate agent, you can enter the real estate market with the confidence that you need to thrive.
Buying a home is a process that can seem daunting and even a little scary to most first-time buyers. After all, being a homeowner is a huge financial and personal responsibility.
To make this lengthy process a bit more approachable, we’re going to break it down into five steps. While these five steps may be somewhat different for each person, depending on their own unique situation, they do comprise most home buyer’s experience.
If you’re interested in learning the steps you’ll need to take before owning your first home, read on.
Step 1: Know your long-term goals
Before you buy a home, you’ll want to have a clear understanding of what you, your spouse, and your family want from the next five or more years. You’ll want to make sure the area you’re moving to can provide things like career advancement and opportunity, good schools for your children, and so on.
These questions may seem obvious, but it’s an important conversation to have before making the long-term commitment of owning a home.
Step 2: Your budget and your needs
It might be tempting to hop online and start shopping for houses, but first you should get a clear idea of the size and cost of the house you’re looking for. This involves determining your budget, thinking about your credit and planning for your down payment.
Step 3: Mortgage pre-approval
Getting preapproved for a mortgage can be a great way to gauge the interest late and loan amount you’ll be approved for. You’ll need to gather paperwork, including income information (pay stubs), tax returns, and W-2 forms.
Be aware that lenders will run a detailed credit report. Since credit reports count as an inquiry, they can temporarily lower your credit score by a few points.
Applying to several lenders within a short period of time can make a significant impact on your score. However, it will start to rise again within a few months if you don’t open any new credit accounts or take out other loans.
Step 4: Get an agent
Real estate agents know the ins and outs of the home buying process better than anyone else. They’ll be able to guide you through the process and provide you with information that you can’t get anywhere else.
Step 5: Pick the right home for you
Now it’s time to start home shopping. However, before you begin, remember that getting approved for a loan doesn’t mean you must or should seek to spend the full amount on a home.
Plan for your needs, and keep the future in mind. Someday you might decide to upgrade, but in the meantime you can be building your credit and building equity in a smaller or more frugal home.